Tag Archives: stripes

New markings on new Seabeck Highway pavement called inadequate

The in basket: Kathryn Seals writes to say she has been

wondering if I’ve had any comments on the striping/reflectors on the new stretches of pavement leading to the recently completed roundabout at Seabeck Highway/Holly Road.

“The paint has minimal reflective content and the actual reflectors are few and far between,” she said. “Most of the new roads I’ve been on have been brightly marked and more reflective than an airport runway.

“However, driving Seabeck Highway home in the dark last night from the Bremerton direction was like trying to navigate a wet black sea.

“I could barely see a center line or shoulder stripes — and oncoming traffic glare made for a pretty nerve-wracking couple of miles.  Maybe the crews put down temporary ‘first coat’ markings but haven’t gotten back for the final application? Otherwise whatever they did hasn’t lasted.

“I know it’s the wrong time of year for a re-stripe (something sorely needed on ALL our roads out this way) but maybe the county road crews could slap down a few dozen more reflectors in all directions to help until spring.”

The out basket: Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer says, “We have not noticed the problem encountered by your reader. The newly paved section of Seabeck Highway is marked the same as other roads with that speed and federal functional class.

“The road is striped with fresh paint, double coated, for both the yellow centerline and white edge lines. Raised reflective pavement markers are on the centerline to improve visibility.  The markers are spaced the same as on all other county roads.

“In addition to added visibility for the centerline, the markers also improve the visibility during rainy weather.  Water on the road tends to degrade the reflectivity of the paint making it much more difficult to see.  The markers help counter this problem by their height above the standing water.

“Of note in visibility issues during rainy weather is the pavement itself. New pavement is very dark and reflects little to no light.  This makes the roadway more difficult to see and adding the water from the rain makes the painted lines hard to see.  As a road ages and sees wear and tear from vehicles, the small stones in the asphalt start to wear through and reflect some light making roads easier to see.

“We restripe all county-maintained roads each year,” he added, though as Kathryn suggested, not this time of year.

Wide stripes being tested on Highway 106

The in basket: I found myself on Highway 106, aka South Shore Road coming back from the Shelton Oyster Fest and Hunter Farms recently and was struck by the striping on the edge lines and center line.

The white edge lines at both shoulders, and wherever a center stripe prohibited passing, the stripes were about twice as wide as normal. Only the skip stripes where passing is allowed were normal width. They may have been brighter than usual too, though that may just have been that the paint was brand new.

The state tries to restripe all its lines each summer and fall, but not like this.

The out basket:  I asked Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways about it and she sent along a news release that essentially says the purpose is to make the road appear narrower without actually narrowing it.

“Maintenance crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation have taken an innovative approach to help motorists focus on the road and drive the speed limit on a portion of State Route 106 southwest of Belfair,” it said.

“On September 15, WSDOT widened the edge stripe and center line stripes along the roadway from the standard 4 inches to 8 inches. The wider stripe will encroach into the lane and thus not reduce the width of roadway shoulders. From a driver’s perspective, the wider stripe not only increases visibility of the edge stripe, but it also gives the appearance of a slightly narrowed lane, which research has shown improves compliance to the posted speed limit.

“Over the past decade, researchers have found that wider edge lines can improve vehicle operations,” said WSDOT Traffic Engineer Steve Kim. “A 2012 Texas Transportation Institute study provided evidence that wider edge lines are a cost effective, statistically sound approach to reducing crashes and fatalities on a two-lane rural highway.”

“The wider edge line runs along eight miles of SR 106 from milepost 12.2 (near Twanoh State Park) to milepost 20 (near State Route 3).

“WSDOT conducted a speed study before the wider edge lines were installed, and will do so again in the coming months to evaluate the effects of the wider edge lines, and compare results to the 2012 Texas Transportation Institute study.  According to the study, at least 22 other states are currently using the wider edge lines.”

Claudia says I would encounter the same thing on two-lane Highway 302 in Pierce and Mason counties, and four-lane Highway 8 west of Olympia, where it’s also being tried.

“We’ll have to see how the pilot performs to see if we choose to expand the striping (to other highways),” she said

State stripe paint is eco-friendly, but requires drier weather than before

The in basket: Carol Seig of Silverdale had some trouble recently traveling on the Highway 3 northbound off-ramp to Newberry Hill Road that she felt could have been avoided if the highway striping had been less worn.

In addition to contacting me, she made some calls to the state Department of Transportation, where an employee told her that the state has recently gone to a less toxic kind of striping paint in the interests of the environment, but that it was less durable than the former paint so the stripes don’t last as long.

I hadn’t heard that before, so I asked WSDOT if it was true.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the WSDOT’s Olympic Region replied, “About 14 years ago, WSDOT switched from an oil-based paint to a water-based paint because of changing environmental requirements. I asked our regional paint guy about consequences from that change.

“He noted that the biggest change is a reduced weather window in which to paint the highways. He said the oil-based paint could be applied in damp conditions, whereas water-based paints can be applied only in dry weather.

“In our seven-county region, our paint crews are responsible for painting 3,800 ‘line miles’ (highway miles that need to be painted, including skip-stripes on multi-lane highways). When crews used the moisture-tolerant oil paints, they could restripe the entire region every year.  With the reduced work window for water-based paints, they can restripe about 70-80 percent of the region every year.

“He was hesitant to say whether one type of paint lasted longer than another, since several variables can affect the life of a paint stripe, including traffic volumes and weather conditions, both during and after paint applications.

“By the way,” Claudia said, “paint is only one product we use to delineate roadways. Most painted highway stripes are 4 inches wide, but there are areas that require 8-inch stripes (gore points at freeway ramps, stripes to separate HOV lanes from mainline lanes, etc.). At those locations, we use a plastic-based product for the stripes.”

Marine Drive lane markings demonstrate city problem

The in basket: Claudia Hunt writes, “The Kitsap Way and Marine Drive intersection is one I negotiate frequently. The lane markings have become obliterated so completely that twice in the recent past I’ve met someone turning left from Kitsap Way entering Marine Drive occupying the left turn lane I need to exit Marine Drive.

“In daylight hours, it’s possible to avoid collision but if it should happen at night the potential for an unhappy outcome increases,” she said.

The out basket: The missing lane markings are raised pavement markers, RPMs or “turtles,” rather than stripes. The entire two rows separating the turn lane from the northbound Marine Drive lane are gone, with the mastic that used to secure them still visible.

I often report that street departments restripe their streets, roads and highways each year, but that was before I noticed Bremerton has as many or more RPM lines as stripes.

I asked if they are all replaced annually, and what is planned for Marine Drive at Kitsap Way.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the Bremerton street engineers says where the city uses stripes, mostly for edge lines, they will be renewed shortly by Kitsap County paint crews under an agreement between the city and county.

“The city adopted RPMs for roadway delineation quite a few years ago,” he said. “This was done when we started looking at life-cycle costs for an annual painting program, or using RPMs that can easily last 7-10 years before needing replacement.

“Good example – the Manette Bridge.  The fog lines on the bridge need to be painted every year, but the centerline RPM’s are still there and in good shape. Or the Eastpark development and Schley Boulevard.  The City has not had to do any maintenance on either street since the RPM’s where installed several years ago.

“The main contributors to a shorter lifespan on the RPMs are snow plows and heavy traffic,.” Gunnar said. “Plows can literally scrape the RPMs right off of the pavement, which is why the city plows are equipped with a hard rubber edge rather than a straight steel blade.  And traffic, especially in a turning movement, can pop them up as well.

“In years past, we typically would go out with good weather and replace buttons about the same time as the county would go out and paint. The last few years have had us deferring maintenance, as the real issue here is resources.  We are trying to get caught up this year – same as getting the marked crosswalks freshened up a bit.” The street crew may already be replacing missing RPMs, he said.

Marine Drive’s missing RPMS at Kitsap Way are to be replaced this summer, he said

Silverdale Way needs & will get new striping

The in basket: Back in December, Archie Fuhrmann said the stripes on Silverdale Way, especially just north of Byron Avenue, were very hard to see. “You can’t see exactly where to drive in the dark,” he said.

The out basket: This is a common complaint during the winter here and everywhere snow removal and rain wear on the roadway paint. Counties, cities and the state try to restripe every line on every road in their jurisdiction each year, but not until summer.

The stretch of Silverdale Way Archie mentions got more than just the usual winter wear. Silverdale Water District releveled and repaved it late last year after undoing some damage caused by a broken water line.

Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer, says, “We are starting our annual striping program. We have completed a few roads, but the weather and equipment breakdowns have hampered our efforts.

“Because of the volume of traffic in Silverdale we normally stripe over a weekend, usually in July. Our traffic maintenance supervisor is going to evaluate the areas your reader mentioned, and see if we can stripe those areas earlier.”